Kuelap Ruins, Northern Peru
I first read about Kuelap several years ago in a Lonely Planet article about places to visit before they are overrun. This seems to be quite true. When I was there I talked to a local tour guide and he said that there were 12,000 visitors the year before, of which 4,000 were foreigners…if you divide that number by 365 days, that gives you a figure of nearly 11 visitors per day, which was almost exactly what I observed. In 2010 he said that there had been half that number! The key seems to be access. There is no functioning airport in Chachapoyas, and it took us two days on mud-slicked dirt roads through a cloud forest to reach the town from Vilcambamba, Ecuador, and several days later, when we left on the night bus to Huanchaco, on the northern coast of Peru, it took 12 hours on one of the worst, bumpiest, twistiest, windiest most carsickness-inducing roads in the country. Not something the average, Machu Picchu-bound tourist would want to endure. But once the roads are paved and/or a regular air service instigated, “Goodnight, Irene” – it will become just another stop on the Incan tourist trail.